Last month I joined a dozen farmers from central and northern Cambodia for a four-day workshop hosted by CWS about climate resilient agriculture linked to markets. Participants learned new techniques for growing organic vegetables, making organic fertilizer and pesticides and identifying markets to determine the best prices at which to sell produce.
As I listened to a workshop facilitator share her experiences with drought resilient organic vegetable growing techniques and forming vegetable cooperatives, I was inspired to apply them in the community that I work with in my role as a Community Development Facilitator for CWS. I liked the fact that the cooperatives made all the decisions for themselves. The group members decided among themselves what kind of vegetable to grow, who would grow each vegetable and how much of each vegetable to grow, basing this on market demands. This ensured the greatest amount of prosperity for the group.
Later in the workshop, I joined a field trip to learn practical experience from farmers who grow organic vegetables all year by applying drought resilient techniques such as growing vegetables on shelves, crop rotation and diversification. They have made and used organic fertilizer and pesticides. They have realized that this is good for their heath as well as the health of those who buy their vegetables. Hearing them speak about their experience with a vegetable growing group inspired me to form a similar group after I returned home.
After the workshop, when I returned to my work base, I shared with the community about the importance of organic vegetables for their health and encouraged them to make organic fertilizer and pesticide using resources that are available in the community. I was happy to see that four families have begun making organic fertilizers.
One villager who has impressed me with their desire to put the techniques they learned in the workshop into practice was Lim Ourn. She lives in Kantout village, the same village I work in. Ourn operates a small farm where she cultivates rice and grows vegetables. She has two daughters in school and a son who helps her with the farm work. I could see the workshop have changed Ourn’s approach to vegetable growing. She told me the workshop had taught her to be more imaginative. She planned to expand her vegetable garden size from 50 square meters to 120 square meters and grow more vegetables which she would then sell at the markets as a way to increase income for her family.
Trainings such as this one have ripple effects as participants share their new knowledge with friends and neighbors. They are an important step in communities being self-sufficient and prosperous.
Seng Layseang is a Community Development Facilitator with CWS in Cambodia.